With just one week to go before the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament bids go out, the Harvard women's lacrosse team yesterday garnered its highest national ranking of the year.
Harvard was ranked fourth in yesterday's final coaches poll before next week's all-important tournament bids and seedings are released.
Ranked fifth for much of the season, the Crimson climbed past Delaware which lost to Loyola over the weekend and dropped from fourth to seventh.
As a result. Harvard is in a prime position to cop a first round bye in the 12-team NCAA tourney that begins May 9 at colleges across the country and culminates with the Final Four May 19-20 at Boston University.
The nation's top four teams will not only receive first-round byes but also the home-field advantage in the second round, to be played May 12.
Maryland the only team to beat the laxwomen this year ranked first in yesterday's poll, which was determined by a seven-man committee composed of coaches from across the country.
Penn State, number one for the entire season, fell to number two as a result of its weekend loss to Maryland Temple was ranked third, followed by Harvard at four. Lehigh fifth, Loyola at sixth and Delaware at seventh.
With just two games left with lowly Ivy opponents--Dartmouth tomorrow in Hanover, N.H. and Princeton, Saturday on Soldiers Field-it's a safe bet that the Crimson will still be in the top four when the bids go out Monday.
That would be good news for the Harvard squad, which would play its second-round game on Soldiers Field, where it's lost three games in the last five years.
"This certainly helps," Crimson Coach Carole Kleinfelder said last night. "We've just got to keep going."
With Maryland. Penn State and Temple expected to keep a strong hold on the top three spots, it wouldn't appear Harvard has a shot at advancing any further, Kleinfelder added.
"I'm not sure we can help ourselves," she said. "But we can hurt ourselves. We can't afford a loss [in the last two games]."
The Crimson will put a 10-1 record that includes a 10 game winning streak on the line in tomorrow's showdown at Dartmouth Harvard is also 4-0 in the Ivies and just one win away from clinching its fourth straight Ivy League title.
National Women's Lacrosse Rankings As of 4-30
2. Penn State